As much as we love Virtua Tennis 3, it's a bit too arcadey at times. So it's a massive shock when you start playing Top Spin 3. Gone is this simple shot system in favour of a genuine emphasis on timing and positioning that, in all honesty, I still haven't fully got to grips with.
Now you must hold the chosen shot button in advance to generate power, release it in time (ideally just as the ball bounces in front of you) and move the analogue stick in the direction you wish to hit the ball just before your player makes contact. If it sounds tricky on paper then, believe me, it's even worse when the ball is flying back at you from a Nadal or Federer thunderbolt.
Complicating matters further are the way you have to properly position your player to hit each shot type correctly, and the fact there are no on-screen meters such as a power bar to guide you. The only help you're given is an ECG-like stamina readout that appears above both players before each serve.
Nothing but net
Factor in risky power shots and line shots on the trigger buttons and you can imagine how frustrating the game can be when you keep patting the ball into the net or almost take out a line judge with a wild smash.
Thankfully, there are loads of tutorials on every basic and advanced shot imaginable, and you'll need to go through them all before attempting the Career mode. Here you create a player using an impressive sculpting tool and begin a junior season, choosing to compete in either an easy or hard tournament each calendar month. Earn XP, increase your attributes and finish with a top three ranking and you advance your career. It's tough.
The game suffers from soulless crowds and there's little evidence of the histrionics and showmanship some players are notorious for. The player roster also has some notable absentees: where are Sampras, Agassi and Henman to name but three?
Top Spin 3 really won't be to everyone's tastes, and Virtua Tennis fans needn't bother.
Full credit for the new control system - even if does trigger plenty of McEnroe-style temper tantrums. But then maybe that's the point. Fan of Virtua Tennis? Avoid this!